18: The Flag

18: The Flag

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings

The Flag

You’re the emblem of The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.

~George M. Cohan

Sitting on the beach, I find myself mesmerized by the waves crashing into the sand. My trance-like state is interrupted by my two-year-old son. He is pointing at an object in the distance.

“Flag,” he says.

I am intrigued by his new observation, a stark contrast from his usual sightings of trucks, trains and planes. Where did he learn this new word? What does he find fascinating about the flag? Most likely, he is interested in the bright red, white and blue colors fluttering in the wind.

Soon he will learn what the colors, stripes and stars represent. The stars symbolizing the fifty states, the stripes signifying the original thirteen colonies and the colors indicating philosophical attributes—red for hardiness and valor, white for purity and innocence, and blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

Later in life he will learn that the flag stands for democracy, freedom and equality. When he is finished with his social studies lessons, I will step in and impart my wisdom.

I will share with him the horrific tragedies this country has endured recently. Instead of focusing on the gory details, I will highlight stories about altruism and bravery. He will learn about people who gave their life in an attempt to rescue strangers from a building brought down by terrorism. He will learn about the people who opened their homes to strangers left homeless by a hurricane. He will learn about the schoolchildren who sent letters and care packages to strangers fighting for freedom in a foreign land.

“Flag,” my son adamantly says again. Understandably, he wants to make sure I see it.

~Cheryl Maguire

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